‘Blade’ stunner: ‘2049’ a mind-blowing replicant of Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic

‘Blade’ stunner: ‘2049’ a mind-blowing replicant of Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic

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“Blade Runner 2049” explodes on the silver screen as a stunning achievement, a sequel that does far
Dann Gire

dgire@dailyherald.com

“Blade Runner 2049” explodes on the silver screen as a stunning achievement, a sequel that does far more than merely recycle elements from Ridley Scott’s 1982 original science-fiction classic.

Denis Villeneuve’s long-anticipated, pensive meditation of what it means to be human springboards into startling, fresh terrain without losing the smart, neo-noiry, existentialist essence of its 35-year-old predecessor.

Describing the plot of “Blade Runner 2049” without spoiling its myriad revelations is like avoiding explosions in a minefield. I can’t even tell you the movie’s best line of dialogue without tipping a secret.

In “2049,” Los Angeles has turned into an even more populated, polluted, grimy cesspool of capitalistic excess in which 10-story-tall neon naked women peddle their services.

LAPD Blade Runner K (Ryan Gosling, funneling his emo-arrested persona from “Only God Forgives”) finds and “retires” renegade Nexus 8 replicants — artificial humans created as a workforce before the newer Nexus 9 models replaced them.

Just before a brutal fight with K, a burly Nexus 8 named Sapper (Dave Bautista) makes a cryptic reference to a “miracle.” Foreshadowing alert!

K eventually locates his predecessor, former blade runner Rick Deckard (reprised by a craggy Harrison Ford), on the lam for more than 30 years.

He’s been living in an abandoned casino — hiding a secret that could destabilize the world in a story that thematically parallels Deckard’s previous experiences with Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty.

K’s boss, Lt. Joshi (a perfectly cast Robin Wright, taking her “House of Cards” presidential toughness to more ruthless levels), runs a tight department.

Not quite as tight as sociopathic industrialist Niander Wallace (Jared Leto with creepy contact lenses), a blind genius who creates Nexus 9s.

Villeneuve, who’s proven himself a master of highly visual works such as “Prisoners” and “Arrival,” comes astonishingly close to duplicating the moody, toxic atmosphere of Scott’s movie.

Roger Deakins’ woozy, narcotically inspired camera work conspires with Dennis Gassner’s mind-blowing production designs to first re-create the feel of “Blade Runner,” then create something altogether new for “2049.”

Screenwriters Hampton Fancher and Michael Green (basing their material on Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”) wisely drop Ford’s excessive, voice-over narration from the original film, as several recut “Blade Runner” versions also did later.

Admittedly, “2049” could use some of the ruthless cutting performed by Wallace’s blade-wielding replicant assassin, Luv 
(Sylvia Hoeks).

This milestone runs at a winded 164 minutes, threatening to undermine the innovative visuals, “Game of Thrones”-grade plot twists and Ford’s most nuanced performance since the turn of the 21st century. (He doesn’t point at anyone!)

Then there’s the conspicuous lack of traffic in L.A.’s airspace. K’s flying car goes wherever he wants undeterred by other vehicles or droves of drones that you know will be there.

Even “The Jetsons” got that part right.